Urban Meyer made $6,344,000 in salary and bonuses last season, but it wasn't until Tuesday that he became the biggest bargain in college football.
How can I describe Meyer, a coach whose take home pay every week is $61,000, after half of it vanishes to pay the Tax Man, as the biggest bargain in college football?
Because Nick Saban got a big raise on Tuesday and will make $11.1 million this year.
There's no way Saban is a 40% better coach than Meyer, whose record at OSU is 61-6 in five seasons, with one national championship thrown in.
The Buckeyes this fall will charge $190 per ticket for home games against Oklahoma and Michigan State, and $140 for the Penn State ticket.
They couldn't do that with no fear of Ohio Stadium's sellout streak ending without a guaranteed producer like Meyer at the top of the program.
The same is true at Alabama, where Saban has won 119 games in 10 seasons and four national championships. Saban's record is actually more impressive than that. After a 7-6 season to start, he's won 112 games in nine years, an average of 12.4 wins per-season.
12.4 wins a year!
And Bama has been ranked No. 1 at least one week in each of those nine seasons.
Now I know there's an aversion these days to anyone who's successful and makes a ton of money, but think about where Alabama and Ohio State's football programs would be without these two men.
Think where their athletic programs would be.
Thirty-seven of Ohio State's 38 varsity sports other than football owe their continued existence to football. Only men's basketball pays for itself.
The Buckeye women's basketball program loses money every year. The OSU women's hockey team loses more than $1 million every year.
So every time you lace up your skates, ladies, make sure you mouth a word of thanks to Urban Meyer.
Now I know Ohio State football existed before Urban. In fact, it thrived long before he was born and will continue to thrive long after he's gone.
OSU is actually the only football power nationally that hasn't endured a prolonged slump in my lifetime. USC, Texas, Notre Dame, Michigan, Tennessee, Miami, Nebraska, Florida State and every other program you can think of has had a rough stretch of three consecutive seasons or more sometime in the last four decades.
Not Ohio State, though.
Occasionally, there's a down year here and there, but never more than one or two seasons of complete irrelevancy before they're back in a New Year's Day bowl and building toward a championship.
I submit that sort of historical success makes Ohio State one of the easier jobs in the Big Ten.
That's right. You heard me correctly...it's one of the easiest jobs in the Big Ten.
So how can I contend Meyer is underpaid if winning at Ohio State is relatively easy, compared to the rest of the league?
Because Meyer wins in a way no one else has before him.
Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce, John Cooper and Jim Tressel all excelled in the job before Meyer, but none maximized every asset OSU has at its disposal the way Urban does.
He takes Ohio State's unlimited financial resources, enviable tradition, in-state recruiting monopoly, national brand and bloodthirsty sense of entitlement among the fan base and mixes it all together into a steaming stew of success that dominates on every level.
Sure, the 31-0 loss to Clemson in the college football playoff last season hurt to watch, but it came at the end of a year in which the Buckeyes returned just six starters on offense and defense combined.
Would you bet against Meyer getting back there within reach of a national championship this year?
Of course, not. Nor would you bet against Saban, even though Meyer has lost 19 guys to the NFL draft the last two seasons and Saban has lost 17.
I don't think it's contradictory at all to say Meyer is underpaid and that he has one of the easier jobs in the Big Ten. Any reasonably competant coach is going to win at Ohio State.
Luke Fickell was handed a steaming pile of dung in 2011 after Jim Tressel was fired in the summer of that year. Fickell got a program awash in an NCAA investigation, with a true freshman quarterback and still went 6-6 in the regular season. Four of those losses were by a touchdown or in overtime. So OSU was three or four plays from winning 9 games with a head coach who couldn't hire his own staff and who had no experience at all in the role he inherited under the worst possible circumstances.
That's the luxury the lack of depth in the Big Ten and the quality of Ohio recruits affords you at OSU. You're going to walk in and win 9 games if you know the difference between a whistle and a clipboard.
It's the difference between winning 9 and winning 12 games a year that separates the wannabes from the big dogs, and that's where Meyer comes in.
He's an alpha. Some coaches have a zero tolerance policy for guys who are late to meetings or who get in trouble off the field. Urban has a zero tolerance policy for one thing and one thing only -- losing.
That he will not abide. Just ask the co-offensive coordinators from last season, who were encourged to find employment elsewhere after the Buckeyes got shut out in the Fiesta Bowl.
Ohio State went 34 years between national championships from 1968 to 2002. Urban Meyer won one in the third year after he took over, and he might have won one in his first year if his athletic director hadn't screwed up and estimated the NCAA penalties from the Tressel era completely wrong, resulting in the Buckeyes being ineligible to play for a title in 2012.
You are going to win, and you are going to win big, and you are going to make untold sums of money off tickets, concessions, licensed merchandise and every other revenue stream the bean-counters at Ohio State can devise ways to put a price tag on as long as Urban Meyer continues to report for work.
That is why you smile when you sign the check for $6.4 million a year, or whatever he happens to demand.
Because you know, no matter what it costs you, you are getting a relative bargain compared to the threat of falling back into the shallow end of the pool of aspirations that looms the minute Meyer retires.
Does anyone besides me find it curious that in an era of cell phone cameras and recording devices in everyone's hand, where everyone is justifiably outraged by racial slurs of any kind, that no one can identify or pinpoint the person who yelled a racial slur at Baltimore's Adam Jones?
Jones got a standing ovation Tuesday after the allegations he made Monday.
But no one heard it or recorded it or knew who said it?
There are two reasons I put no stock in this early 2018 mock NFL draft. First, every year at this time, people overestimate how many quarterbacks will be taken the next April. Second...only two Buckeyes to go in the 2018 first round? Not bloody likely.